The Merchant of Venice is a play written by William Shakespeare and is set in Venice around the time 1956. The three main characters are named Antonio, Shylock and Bassanio. The title character is the leading merchant Antonio who is a wealthy, respected, and popular man. During the play Antonio asks a Jewish money lender named Shylock to borrow money, Shylock agrees to give Antonio the money but he wants a bond saying that if Antonio doesn’t pay the money back in a certain amount of time then Shylock gets to cut off an ounce of Antonio’s flesh. When Antonio fails to pay the money back Shylock refuses to be merciful. The dispute gets taken to The Duke. At the end of the play a young doctor states that Shylock can have an ounce of flesh however if Shylock cuts one bit less or one bit more than an ounce or if blood is drawn Shylock is in breach of the bond. Also if Shylock would be accused of trying to kill Antonio, who was a Christian, then Shylock to will be put to death. At the end of the play Antonio shows mercy and instead of killing Shylock forces him to convert to being a Christian.
The purpose of this essay is to give reasons for Shylock can be seen as both villain and victim.
One example that may point to Shylock being a villain is the strong prejudice Shylock has for Antonio. In the passage in Act 1 Scene 3 Line 40 Shylock refers to Antonio as a ‘fawning publican’ meaning that he was a cringing tax gatherer. It is also evident that Shylock hates Antonio not only because he is a Christian but because he sees Antonio as a risk to Shylock’s own money lending business as Antonio lends money without charging interest. This hatred becomes clear nearer the end of the passage Shylock makes clear the age long prejudice between Jews and Christians and the harm he will do-
‘If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.’
Another reason that...